With the NBA Draft fast approaching, the Orlando Magic find themselves in an enviable position. Not only do they have the fifth and eighth picks in this draft, but they also just hired a head coach who has come in and said all of the things fans wanted to hear. Not only that, but the introduction of Jamahl Mosley is just the break a number of players on the roster needed.
Although the Magic had a good chance at having a higher pick than where they currently find themselves, this class looks to have some sneaky depth to it. The Detroit Pistons may be in a “no-brainer” position, but that doesn’t mean the Magic are going to be struggling for options by the time they’re up either.
A lot of draft experts see this as a five-person draft, or six depending on your thoughts on Jonathan Kuminga, so the Magic’s decision may be made for them with the fifth pick by the time they are up once they see who is left on the board. That eighth pick, however, is an intriguing one, and there is one player they should think long and hard about.
The Orlando Magic have two top 10 picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, and they should use one of them on James Bouknight, even if it is a reach.
Obviously, there are other directions the Magic could go, but taking Bouknight makes sense no matter what way you look at it. Coming at it from the position of what the franchise needs, and right now there is a distinct lack of exciting offensive talent in the backcourt. Cole Anthony had a really nice rookie season, and R.J. Hampton is only going to get better as well.
Markelle Fultz is the potential x-factor here as he rehabs a torn ACL, although both he and Anthony project more as pure point guards. Bouknight would slot in as the most intriguing pure scorer of the lot. A two-guard who attacks the basket in a way that resembles somebody like Ja Morant. In other words, the polar opposite of somebody like Fultz, who is crafty in his movements.
While that would be a fascinating yin and yang combo, pairing Bouknight and Anthony would bring with it a lot of attitude and frantic play. The kind that previous head coach Steve Clifford would have been horrified by, but with new coach Mosley might be more inclined to lean into. The defensive play of the Magic might take a hit, but that only serves to feed nicely into our next point.
Since the new front office took over in 2017, they have used their lottery picks on players like Jonathan Isaac and Mohamed Bamba. Forwards/centers who needed to pack on some muscle, but who looked to have some potentially great defensive instincts. That is still true of Isaac, also out with an ACL tear, while the jury is still out on Bamba.
Wendell Carter Jr. is also now on the roster, while Chuma Okeke showed the kind of game in his first healthy season with the team to make fans forget about Aaron Gordon real quick. You should always look at the best available players to draft, and it will be no different for the Magic with the fifth pick.
But even at this stage, the Magic may yet get to use their fifth pick on Scottie Barnes or Kuminga. Forwards with a ton of upside. You add that to the guys already in place, and suddenly the prospect of adding one of the best pure scorers in the draft, if not the best, makes all the sense in the world. This is where Bouknight once again comes in.
The Magic are by no means close to being the finished article as a young team. There will be tough decisions to make regarding keeping Bamba around beyond his rookie contract or deciding to go in a different direction with Carter Jr. Other veterans like Terrence Ross would net them a young player or pick in any potential trade as well.
But no matter what way you look at it, the Magic really need some consistent scoring. Bouknight, after going through the growing pains that almost all rookies do, could provide just that. He would also provide some sort of insurance if Fultz never comes back to look like the player he was before his injury.
Right now the Magic look more set in the frontcourt, and that is again without taking into consideration how they will use the fifth pick. The eighth pick came about as the result of trading center Nikola Vucevic to the Chicago Bulls, and they are due another first-round pick from that deal next year as well.
Using this opportunity to draft Bouknight, when expectations for this group are still low and next year is a rebuilding season, is another reason to make that selection. Tyrese Haliburton was selected 12th overall by the Sacramento Kings last year, and already the general consensus is that he should have gone higher. Bouknight can be this draft’s answer to that choice, and the Orlando Magic will benefit if they are brave enough to reach for him.